Canada flag 10 x 15 cm
Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area, and shares land borders with the United States to the south and northwest.
The land occupied by Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of aboriginal people. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled along, the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of additional provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom, highlighted by the Statute of Westminster in 1931, and culminating in the Canada Act in 1982 which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
A federation comprising ten provinces and three territories, Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual and multicultural country, with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. Technologically advanced and industrialized, Canada maintains a diversified economy that is heavily reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the G8, NATO, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Francophonie, and the United Nations.
The National Flag of Canada, also known as the Maple Leaf, and l'Unifolié (French for "the one-leafed"), is a red flag with a white square in its centre, had been officially adopted in Canada to replace the Union Flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order-in-Council for use "wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag". In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson appointed a committee to resolve the issue, sparking a serious debate about a flag change. Out of three choices, the maple leaf design by George F. G. Stanley and John Matheson based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada was selected. The flag made its first appearance on February 15, 1965; the date is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.
Many different flags have been created for use by Canadian officials, government bodies, and military forces. Most of these flags contain the maple leaf motif in some fashion, either by having the Canadian flag charged in the canton, or by including maple leaves in the design. The Royal Union Flag is also an official flag in Canada, used as a symbol of Canada's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, and of its allegiance to the Crown. The Union Flag makes a component of other Canadian flags, including the provincial flags of British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario.
The length of the Maple Leaf flag is twice the width. The white field is a Canadian pale (a square central band in a vertical triband flag, named after this flag), and each bordering red field is exactly half its size. In the centre of the white field is a red maple leaf. In heraldry, the flag has been blazoned as "Gules on a Canadian pale argent a maple leaf of the first."
The maple leaf has served as a symbol celebrating the nature and environment of what is now Canada since the 1700s. The number of points on the leaf has no significance on the flag; they do not, for instance, represent the ten provinces plus one point for the territories, such as the Australian Commonwealth Star denotes. The number and arrangement of the points of the maple leaf were chosen after wind tunnel tests showed the current design to be the least blurry of the various designs when tested under high wind conditions. The image of the maple leaf used on the flag was designed by Jacques Saint-Cyr. In 1921, King George V proclaimed the official colours of Canada as red, from Saint George's Cross, and white, from the French royal emblem since King Charles VII.
The Department of Canadian Heritage has listed the various colour shades for printing ink that should be used when reproducing the Canadian flag; these include:
FIP red: General Printing Ink, No. 0-712;
Inmont Canada Ltd., No. 4T51577;
Monarch Inks, No. 62539/0
Rieger Inks, No. 25564
Sinclair and Valentine, No. RL163929/0.
The colours 0/100/100/0 in the CMYK process, PMS032 (flag red 100%), or PMS485 (used for screens) in the Pantone colour specifier can be used when reproducing the flag. In 1984, the National Flag of Canada Manufacturing Standards Act was passed to unify the standards used for flying the flag both indoors and outdoors.